Have you ever taken a look at a Copiana farm tower and wondered how it works? The Copiana team recently sat down with Head Greenhouse Manager, Jeffrey Arner, to discuss what aeroponic farming is and what it takes to grow plants in the air.
What You Need to Know About Vertical Farming: A Q&A with Greenhouse Manager Jeffrey Arner
What is aeroponic farming?
Aeroponics is a type of system that our farm towers use to grow our crops. The plants are suspended in the air, and water is delivered through a misting system. Generally, in an aeroponic system, you end up recycling the water you’re using.
If that’s an aeroponic system, what’s a hydroponic system?
There are a couple key characteristics that differentiate the two. In a hydroponic system, the plant’s root structure is continuously submerged in water, while in our aeroponic system, the root structure is suspended in the air. While we deliver water throughout the day to our plants, a hydroponic system’s root structure is continuously in the water and is aerated, so those roots don’t drown. Although recirculating water is a crucial characteristic of an aeroponic system, we still have to replenish our basins. As the mist hits the plants, they use it to grow, which drops the water level in our reservoir over time.
While our system looks untraditional, we can still grow all the traditional crops you’re used to. Basically, anything that’s above the ground, we grow here at Copiana. Three of our main categories are lettuce, hearty greens such as collards and kale, and herbs like mint and lavender. In the summer, we also like to make it fun and do stuff like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.
How long does it take until the crop is ready for harvest?
At Copiana, we do everything from seed to finished crop. It takes about four weeks for our seeds to germinate and grow to the right size for your tower. Once we’ve transplanted into your tower, it takes about four more weeks until we’re ready for your harvest event. Harvests take place every four or five weeks, depending on growth.
Watch Jeff’s Q&A:
What are the advantages of vertical farming?
Vertical farming uses less land.
One of my favorite things about these systems is how sustainable they are. Using these towers, we can grow produce using 90% less water and 90% less space than traditional farming practices. A study from the University of Mississippi showed a 30% increase in crop yield over eight crops using the tower farm system, including kale and basil, which I grow in the greenhouse. My most significant advantage is the speed at which I’m able to produce crops.
Vertical farming requires minimal power.
I love the tower because the pump only has to run about an hour intermittently throughout the day. So when we put a farm on your property, we’re not a huge power draw.
Where is the best place for a farm on my property?
The one thing that we need from you is a power source close to where we’ll be growing our crops. Other than this, our other considerations involve light and temperature. In the summer, we tend to grow outside. In the winter, we’re growing inside with supplemental light.